by Susan Caplan McCarthy
March - Spring Cleaning
Some people love doing laundry; they find folding freshly-washed clothes a soothing activity. Others pile their dried clothing on a chair and root around for something to wear from this pile as opposed to putting away their clothes.
Beyond hiring someone to do your laundry and put it away, one of the first things to do if you aren’t happy with your current laundry routine is to figure out where things aren’t working for you.
You forget the clothing in the washing machine, so you have to wash the load a second time before drying it … Set a timer to remind you; don’t just rely on the washing machine buzzer to prompt you toward the next step. If you leave the house while clothes are washing, set a reminder on your phone to go off when you plan to get home. Or, leave a big note someplace obvious.
You have so many loads of laundry waiting to be washed, you don’t know when you’ll be able to do it all … Either hire one-time help or plan to do it yourself. If you have a dozen loads to wash, fitting in one might not seem like much help, but it means you won’t be adding that load to your to-do list. Keep at it because you’re making new dirty clothes every day. Remember, you can do something else while the clothes are washing and drying.
Also, and this may sound counterintuitive – own less clothing so you do laundry more often. Having a lot of clothing means that you have a lot of clean clothing to wear so the dirty stuff can pile up to intimidating proportions. Then, you have to put away all that clean clothing and you may not have space to put it all (because you’ve gotten used to having big piles of dirty laundry, you have more clothing than will fit in your closet and drawers).
You can’t motivate yourself to put away your clothing … First, what’s your expectation? If you think that you have to fold clothing, but you hate folding clothing, then hang everything that you can and toss the rest in a drawer. Professional organizers who like fold clothing will tell people to fold their clothing. Those organizers who find hanging clothing easier, will recommend that. So, whatever advice you hear, go with what works for you.
Do you have space near your dryer where you can put up a clothing rack and hang things as they come out of the dryer? That way, you move clothing, on their hangers, right into your closet. Then, you remove the empty hangers from the closet and put them in your laundry room.
No space to hang clothes as they come out of the dryer? (Me either.) Unfortunately, you just have to choose to hang and put away your clothing. Set a timer, try to finish within the space of two or three songs, make it a game.
You wish everyone in your house would put away their clothing … Announce that things are changing. If you’ve always put away everyone’s clothing, don’t assume that they’ll know how to do it based on your example. You may need to teach skills such as putting clothing on a hanger and how to keep similar items together so it will be easier to make clothing selections.
Will things be messier than how you did them? Likely. You can offer help a few times so to demonstrate how to do the task. And then, step back. Is your 12-year-old mortified that they have to wear a wrinkled shirt to school? That’s a logical consequence of not hanging up clothing and leaving it in a pile.
You wish you had a laundry routine, but you don’t know where to start … Figure out how many loads of laundry you do each week, including things like towels and sheets. Weeks may differ but try to estimate the average loads you do.
Next, consider if you have time to do two loads of laundry in a day or if you’d prefer to do one load. Divide your loads of laundry by days to figure out how often you need to do laundry, so the work doesn’t back up.
Then, decide if you’ll do laundry in the morning or the evening (or wash in the morning and dry in the evening). If you live in an apartment, you may end up choosing the time that works around other people’s schedules.
Make the decision to stick with this routine. Give yourself a little treat for doing the laundry – you watch a half-hour sitcom while folding clothes, you get to sit down with a cup of tea and a magazine for ten minutes, you talk on the phone while putting away laundry. The goal of the treat is to make the chore a bit more pleasant.
How have you streamlined your laundry routine? Share your tip in the comment section below.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm a professional organizer-coach with 26 years' experience as a teacher. I believe that an organized home isn't your destination but a step on the path toward the life you want to create. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; and speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.